A man using a laminating machine

Types of Laminator Machines

If you’re looking for a laminator machine but are confused about what type to get or about the differences between the various types available, this article should be helpful.

Here’s a rundown of the main types of laminators.

Pouch Laminator

A pouch laminator is relatively smaller, so it’s a more portable laminator.

This sort of laminator uses a definite size plastic line with adhesive to encase a substrate. The plastics are known as pouches, and that’s where the laminator gets its name.

So, what you have to do is take the substrate you’d like to laminate and put it in the pouch before placing the pouch in the protective covering, or carrier, and running it through the laminator.

The machine heats up the adhesive which causes the plastics to adhere together and encase the substrate.

Pouches have a thickness of up to 10 mils, and the thicker the pouch, the sturdier the final product. As pouches are thicker than the laminating film used with roll laminators, pouch laminators are better at offering protection to the document.

Pouch laminators can do both hot and cold laminating, depending on the model.

  • Small machines that require less workspace than roll laminators
  • Limited by the size of the document - typically laminates documents with a width of up to 14 inches
  • Less expensive than roll laminators

Roll Laminator

Also called film laminators, roll laminators are commonly found in schools and other bigger organizations because they’re meant for professional or commercial use.

A roll laminator uses huge film rolls to laminate substrates of a wide size range, normally from around 12 to around 70 inches in width. And when the machine is done laminating, it also trims the document.

The substrate is normally placed on a plastic sheet with adhesive. The top roller holds the laminate’s top layer in position, and when the switch is flipped, the substrate gets pressed in between the two layers of film.

The heaters spread heat over the film, and the glue adheres permanently around the document.

  • Able to laminate documents of any size
  • High machine cost
  • A big output volume - can laminate thousands of documents in a day
  • Huge size - needs more workspace than other models like Pouch
  • Operates like an assembly series, laminating many substrates in a series

Cold Laminators

If you’re looking for a machine that is totally kid-safe, then you might want to consider getting a cold laminator.

This kind of laminator doesn’t use heat to bind the laminating film. Instead, it uses a combination of pressure and adhesive to laminate your documents.

One great advantage of the cold laminators is that they ensure water tightness and amazingly, they’re the only type of laminators able to pull that off.

Again, unlike the hot laminators (pouch and roll), they don’t need a power source. So, the next time you hold an outdoor festival and you need to laminate documents, the correct laminating machine to use will be a cold laminator.

  • Safer as heat isn't used
  • Rigidity is sacrificed
  • Able to create a water-tight barrier
  • Don't need a power source

Carrier-free Laminators

These are the laminators that don’t use carriers. While they may seem like a good upgrade, we’d advise staying away from these for this reason. The carrier helps to ensure that the glue on the laminating film doesn’t collect on the rollers.

This function helps save the machine from failure and thus improves its longevity. Taking away the carriers reduces the machine’s longevity.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Laminator Machine

Laminating machines are available in all sizes and shapes and picking out the model that fits you best can be a little challenging. We have outlined a few factors you should consider when shopping for a laminator to make sure you get the best laminator for you.


Depending on the size of the machine and the functionalities, laminators range from 50 to 1,000 US dollars.

If you’re looking to laminate regular-sized papers at your home or workplace, a laminator going for around 50 to 400 dollars should be sufficient.

Keep in mind that cold laminators are generally more expensive than hot lamination machines.

What is to be laminated

If the materials you’ll be laminating are sensitive to temperatures, then you might want to go for a cold laminating machine.

Again, if you’ll be laminating photographs most of the time, then a laminating machine with a minimum of four rollers will be suitable.

Remember, the higher the number of rollers, the better the results.

Size of your substrates

If you get a pouch laminator, you can only laminate substrates (paper or fabric) with a maximum width of 14 inches. That means you won’t be able to laminate things like banners, posters, or big maps.

So, don’t just think about your laminating needs now, think of your needs down the road.

We’d advise you to go for a roll laminator as it enables you to laminate items that are between 12 and 70 inches wide.


Different laminators have different outputs. In general, pouch laminating machines can only laminate small to medium volumes of substrates. By small volumes, we mean a few dozen items, and by medium, we mean a few hundred items a day.

Roll laminators, on the other hand, are suitable when you want to laminate many substrates. They’re ideal for medium to high volumes of output. With a roll laminator, you can laminate several thousand items a day.

Film thickness

The thicker the laminating film, the better the protection. But then again, the thicker the film, the less the flexibility and the harder it is to fold the laminated paper.

Film thickness is an essential consideration especially because different laminators work with different thicknesses.

Pouch laminators often work with films with a thickness of up to 10 mils while roll laminators work with thinner films of around 1.5 to 3 mils.

Will kids use it?

Laminators are generally meant for use by adults. A pouch laminator, however, can be used by kids under the supervision of an adult. That’s because its hot components aren’t exposed, unlike those of the roll laminator.


If space is an issue to you, then you’re better off with a pouch laminator. Roll laminators consume more space and maybe unsuitable where space is limited.

Will the documents be mounted on foam board?

If the pictures, maps or posters are going to be mounted on foam board, it’d be better to use a roll laminator.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Why do I need to laminate documents?

You need to laminate documents in order to preserve them.The laminating film offers protection to the document against moisture and general wear. The primary purpose of laminating papers is to boost their longevity, and that’s something we all want.

2. How long does the laminating process take?

The laminating process can take up to 10 minutes. After the intial warm up, it usually takes 30 seconds to laminate items.

3. Is it possible to fold the laminated document?

Yes, it’s possible to fold the laminated document. Folding it with the hands might be a little challenging especially if the laminating material is thick or hard but with a scoring machine, folding the laminated document will be fairly easy.

4. Is it possible to cut the laminated paper?

Yes, it is possible to cut the laminated paper. However, the difficultly of cutting differs with the thickness of the laminating material. The thicker the laminating material, the harder it is to cut the laminated paper. If you want to cut laminated paper, you’d better use sharp and firm scissors.

5. Can I laminate old photographs?

Yes, you can laminate old photographs. One factor to keep in mind is that the heat can ruin old photographs, particularly if an inkjet printer was used to print them. Therefore, if you want to laminate old photographs, you’d better use a cold laminator or a pouch laminator with a cold setting.


Hopefully by now you have a better understanding of all the different types of laminator machines that are available to purchase. Here’s a list of the top 10 best laminators that we have reviewed if you’re ready to buy a laminator machine. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions.